TV WATCH THIS MONTH’S SCREEN REVIEW
When the cost of living crisis means subscriptions to channels as well stocked as Netflix and Disney+ are being cancelled, the programming of Sky Sports and BT Sport during the close season is staggeringly complacent. BT’s initially promising run of documentaries has ceased, as if Sky’s model of going punting and reading the novels of Evelyn Waugh the day after the Premier League season ends is one to follow. Anyone who mocks teachers for long holidays should check the workload of a Sky football scheduler during summer.
In between repeats of random games from the past decade, desperately rebadged as “Retro”, Sky only shows repeats of Gary Neville’s Soccer Box, an interview show with ex-pros the equal of Neville’s management at Valencia. The one moment of potential respite was Sarina Wiegman: Making A Manager. Yet, with hours of empty space to fill, Sky devoted just minutes to profiling England’s boss. The result was inevitably hagiographic, despite no interview with Wiegman herself. We learned she’s popular but driven, a team player but single-minded, workaholic but relaxed. The analysis was like listening to a horoscope. There was no attempt to explain why Wiegman left managing her native Dutch national side for England, typifying a wasted opportunity that might as well have been filled by Everton’s draw with Arsenal in .
By contrast, Alex Scott: The Future of Women’s Football (BBC , July ), shown in the usual Match of the Day slot, was an insightful hour that didn’t duck awkward subjects, despite the opportunity for bland cheerleading on the weekend before BBC ’s Euros coverage commenced. The lack of non-white players in the England team was addressed by FA women’s director Kelly Simmons, who admitted club academies were often in rural areas prohibitively expensive and inaccessible by public transport. That was starting to be changed, insisted Simmons, with a more seemingly straightforward honesty than virtually any of her male FA colleagues. Less clear cut was how to solve the apparent racism in sponsorship deals. Former England defender Anita Asante never even had a boot deal, with agent Jo Tongue revealing agencies would say “We already have a Lioness” or “We only need a striker” when racial discrepancies were raised.
Another unresolved tension highlighted in Scott’s documentary was how
B R A D F O R D
T I M
to keep attendances rising. The current WSL average crowd of , is expected to treble by . That’s good, but where should games be played? Scott and Simmons felt playing more matches in men’s stadiums would help, but players including Jess Carter and Simone Magill admitted competing in largely empty grounds is dispiriting and lacking in crowd atmosphere. If the answer is uncertain, at least the show recognised that a debate is necessary.
Analysts from Deloitte and WSL sponsors Barclays explained current financial losses in the women’s game are normal for a product that can be offset garnering so much positive publicity, a neat rebuttal of the usual contrarian columnists who have been stating TV coverage is out of proportion to WSL attendances. Throughout, Scott was as charming as s Des Lynam, while also thoroughly researched. It’s a rare mix, and a full series of documentaries from Scott would be welcome.
The month’s other excellent football show came from BBC Scotland, which by now should surprise nobody. The Lost Final (June ) had the mood of Who Do You Think You Are? in uncovering an unexpectedly moving story. Scotland’s only win in an international football tournament was the Under- s beating Czechoslovakia in the European Championship final in Finland in . Despite that uniqueness, the triumph was overshadowed by the full Scotland side going to the World Cup days later. None of the players – including Paul McStay, Dave McPherson and Gary Mackay – has ever seen any footage.
NUMBERS GAME The figures behind the facts
The cost of a ticket to watch Fulham v Liverpool from the new Riverside Stand at Craven Co age
The crowd for England v Austria at Old Trafford in the opening game of Euro
Goals scored in two matches featuring promotion rivals in Sierra Leone that
Goals scored in two matches featuring promotion rivals in Sierra Leone that finished and
A L A M Y
You have no current subscriptions in your account.
Would you like to explore the titles in our collection?
You have no collections in your account.
Would you like to view your available titles?